Three Years of Intense Advocacy by Coalition Members Yields Successful Results
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
6 June 2007
Contact: Lakshmi Anantnarayan, 212-586-0906, firstname.lastname@example.org
The New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition is delighted by the passage of a strong anti-trafficking law in New York. The Human Trafficking Law, signed into force by Governor Spitzer today, is the strongest state anti-trafficking legislation in the country. The Coalition, an alliance of over 80 state-wide organizations, strongly endorses this anti-trafficking law, which has all the elements considered essential to a strong law. Congratulating the Governor’s office for taking on a leadership role in the drafting of the law Taina Bien-Aimé, Executive Director of Equality Now, noted that “this remarkable achievement would not have been possible without the vision and hard work of Governor Spitzer and his dedicated team. The Governor was able to inspire the leadership of the Assembly and Senate to make this happen.”
Under the new anti-trafficking legislation sex trafficking is a Class B felony, which could entail up to 25 years in prison, and labor trafficking is a Class D felony, which could lead to jail time of up to 7 years. The new law provides for a range of comprehensive services for trafficking survivors such as health care, emergency housing, job training, and services related to immigration protection, among several others. The new law also increases the penalties on patronizing prostitution, which went from a B to an A misdemeanor, and clarifies the existing New York law on sex tourism. Renowned feminist Gloria Steinem remarked, “Thanks to the Coalition of 80 concerned organizations convened by Equality Now and to the responsiveness of Governor Spitzer, Speaker Sheldon Silver and others in Albany, New York State at last has a law to fight this industry based on profit and pain. I am proud that New York's model legislation both rescues the victims and penalizes those who made victimization profitable.”
The US State Department estimates that 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked into the country every year, and many of them into New York. A prominent port of entry, transit and destination for trafficking victims, New York’s strict enforcement of this new law could create a significant impact, reducing human trafficking nationally. Kika Cerpa, a trafficking survivor who has been part of the campaign shares, “I am so happy to finally have an anti-trafficking law in New York that will punish and make it harder to sexually victimize people, especially women. The law might not help me, and my pain and nightmares may never stop. But knowing that other women will be helped and they will have options, and the ones victimizing them will be punished, gives my heart peace. I'm so grateful to everyone that made this law possible and for making me feel that what happened to me matters.”
The New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition has been advocating for a strong law against human trafficking in New York for the past three years. Catherine J. Douglass, Executive Director of inMotion Inc. explains, “The Coalition was strengthened by its diversity. Service providers, policy leaders, religious and labor institutions, and many important grassroots, local, state and even international membership organizations that care about the safety of women, children and the most marginalized in our society all brought enormous energy and unstinting commitment to this effort. This hard-won victory is truly a collective one.” Coalition member organizations and activists have met with legislators and the Governor’s office highlighting the urgent need for a law, spelling out the elements of a comprehensive law and urging Albany to overcome gridlock and ensure that the state provides protection for trafficking victims immediately. The New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition is a group of leading New York-based organizations that have joined forces to advocate for a strong New York State law to hold traffickers accountable and help victims rebuild their lives. The Advisory Council, chaired by Gloria Steinem, includes Mario Cuomo, Meryl Streep, Linda Fairstein, Honorable Betty Weinberg Ellerin, Eve Ensler, Karenna Gore Schiff, and NYC Deputy Mayor Carol Robles among its members. For more information log on to www.stophumantraffickingny.org.